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Booby trap

Posted by Gary on July 22, 2004

In Reply to: Booby trap posted by Helen Meiling on July 22, 2004

: The origin of booby trap comes from a sailing background. In need of a bit of dietary variety, sailors would set up a simple rope noose on the decks of their ships baited with bread or stale biscuits. Passing sea-birds, like booby's would land on deck seeking rest or shelter and be lured and caught in the rope, hence 'booby trap'

Sounds like one of those 'it would be nice if it were true' explanations. Unfortunately, as with most of those, it isn't. Booby is a slang term, originally coined by our colonial cousins, meaning dope/simpleton. A booby trap is any sort of trap, e.g. an object balanced over a door, that would catch out a simple person.